Yeah, I get it. The domestic box office slumped a bit this year. But guess what? I saw a lot of movies that I really enjoyed. So many, in fact, that I can’t just do a list o’ seven. I’m gonna do TWO lists o’ seven.
Can. You. Contain. Your. Excitement?????
Me neither. On with the show!
I have not seen the following films yet but fully expect that they may have left a mark on this list. Maybe even made it THREE lists o’ seven.
They are Atomic Blonde, Baby Driver, The Big Sick, Downsizing, Dunkirk, Get Out, The Mountain Between Us, The Shape of Water, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Wonder.
Of what I did see, here are...
The Lower 7:
14. Ferdinand: If you’re looking for a faithful retelling of the old children’s book, do not look here. But this is still a good family movie about doing whatever it takes to get home. And John Cena... I never really expected this kind of vocal range from him. He’s really good.
13. The LEGO Batman Movie: I saw this no less than five times in theaters with Nathan and at least a dozen times since it came out on Blu-ray and it’s a lot of fun. Fantastic animation, great voice work (Will Arnett is Batman), amazing story, and some solid laughs even for adults. “Ironman Sucks!”
12. It: A movie I never even wanted to see in the first place is now one of my top films of the year. I actually wanted to see it again. Seriously! Me. Clowns.
11. Gifted: While Chris Evans is now and forever will be my Captain America, I loved seeing him branch out to a dramatic role as the reluctant caregiver to his uber-intelligent niece. He’s great! And much like she is in everything she does, Octavia Spencer was amazing. She’s on this list twice this year, in fact.
10. Wonder Woman: While I admit that I felt a little unsettled by the end of this film, the fact I cannot put a finger on why and that I truly loved a vast majority of this film including the perfection in casting that is Gal Gadot saves this from The Last Jedi levels of disappointment. Great action, solid adherence to the origin story (best I can tell), and a storyline that can keep going into sequels. Yay!
9. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle: I expected zero from this film. In fact, I was convinced I would hate it. I didn’t hate it... not in the slightest. I loved it! I will watch Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart together in anything. Karen Gillan gets better with each successive role she plays. And this officially is my favorite Jack Black film ever. Not a reboot nor a remake but a logical and enjoyable sequel to the Robin Williams classic.
8. Kingsman: The Golden Circle: I barely even registered the original film in this series when it came out a couple years ago and, therefore, never saw it. My brother cajoled Katie and I to finally watch it a few months ago just as the sequel was hitting theaters, so we did. And the two films together are so brutally amazing and fun and ridiculous and cool. Plus Julianne Moore is just so deliciously evil that I considered going full-on vegan after watching her.
The Upper 7:
7. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2: I actually think I prefer the sequel to the original film about an outcast group of “heroes” who become each others’ family. How the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Director/Writer James Gunn made such amazing films out of what amounted to nobody characters in the history of comic books is beyond me. But I want him to keep doing it. And look! A second appearance by Karen Gillan (Nebula)!
6. Logan: I’m not a huge fan of mutants or the X-Men and never have been but I’ve always enjoyed any opportunity to see Hugh Jackman flex his Adamantium endoskeleton as Wolverine. He’s always fun and snarky and bloodlusting. But in this film, set many years in a mutant-less future, we get to see him flex his dramatic chops as well. And it is so, so good. I own a mutant movie!
5. Coco: I love when Disney takes a more multicultural approach to their storytelling giving us tales that we as xenophobic Americans might never otherwise hear. Mulan. Moana. You get me. Coco follows suit with a beautifully realized story about El Dia de los Muertos and a little boy who wants to become a guitarista like his great great grandfather before him. Singularly amazing.
4. The Greatest Showman: Look! It’s Wolverine as P.T. Barnum! Yes, Hugh Jackman makes a return visit to my list but doing the polar opposite of his claw-wielding ways. It’s a drama! And a musical! And full of dancing! And (loose) history! And I loved it. Zac Efron was really great too.
3. Hidden Figures: I told you Octavia Spencer would be back. And in fine form as one of three African-American women (with Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae) who made their mathematical marks on the history of space travel. I love lesser-known history lessons like this and I was blown away. Technically this was a 2016 release but it wasn’t in wide release until 2017.
2. Thor: Ragnarok: It seemed nearly impossible to improve upon Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2, and nearly inconceivable to think any comic book story could compare to the Captain America trilogy but the 180° spin the third Thor movie took under new director Taika Waititi is just glorious. So much fun. So visually stunning. And you can just tell that the cast enjoyed themselves because it shows. And do you remember what I said about Julianne Moore in Kingsman: The Golden Circle? Multiply that by 100 (minus the veganism) and you have Cate Blanchett as the evil Hela.
1. War for the Planet of the Apes: I didn’t see this coming. Not at all. But the more I think about this film, the more I love it. For the final film in a trilogy to also be the best is rare. For it to top my list of movies is shocking. But Andy Serkis is a revelation. And Woody Harrelson continues to prove why his chameleonic approach to acting makes him one of the most compelling and intriguing figures in Hollywood, IMHO.
What are your top films?